Category Archives: Libertarian Fiction

Daniel Harding Reviews The Break

‘The Break’ is the latest book by Sean Gabb, and another that explores another alternate timeline of the UK, as well as the amusing political outcomes of said universe. ‘The Break’ is set in the UK in 2018, in the aftermath of a disastrous event (the break) that has taken modern Britain and thrown her back near enough 1,000 years in time, or put her in an alternate universe in the more accurate sense. Most of the story is based around the quest of a young girl who needs to find her parents who have gone missing during her time abroad in Normandy. The other main character is the nephew of a Byzantine diplomat who have come to England to meet her rulers. Continue reading

Review of Richard Blake’s “Curse of Babylon”

The Curse of Babylon

by Richard Blake

Amid the plotting, revolts and wild hedonism of the remains of the Roman empire at the beginning of the seventh century, English adventurer Aelric faces his hardest challenge as he tries to stop a Persian invasion – and deal with a determined and dangerous woman. Continue reading

Interview with Richard Blake, Circa Magazine, July 2014

Interview with Richard Blake

Richard Blake has so far written these historical novels, all published in London by Hodder & Stoughton, and all set in the Byzantine Empire of the seventh century:

Conspiracies of Romeby Richard Blake (2008)
The Terror of Constantinople by Richard Blake (2009)
The Blood of Alexandria by Richard Blake (2010)
The Sword of Damascus by Richard Blake (2011)
The Ghosts of Athens by Richard Blake (2012)
The Curse of Babylon by Richard Blake (2013)

What was your original inspiration for Aelric? 

Based on the similarity in their names, is there any special connection readers are meant to draw between Aelric and the historical figure of Alaric, the Visigoth who sacked Rome in the fifth century?

I think the first idea came to me in the February of 2005, when my wife took me for a long weekend break in Rome. This was my first visit to the City, and my first at that time of year to anywhere in the Mediterranean World. In both senses, the visit opened my eyes. It was cold – much colder than England. Though I “knew” otherwise from the sources, I’d had a fixed notion of the ancient world as a place of omnipresent sun and warmth. Stumbling round the Forum in thick overcoat and gloves brought everything closer to my own experience, and set me thinking about what the Romans wore in winter, and how often most of them really bathed, and what the air must have been like in a place where a quarter of a million houses were heated with charcoal. Continue reading

Richard Blake: “Why Byzantium?”

The Joys of Writing Byzantine Historical Fiction
Richard Blake
Published on ForWinterNights, July 2014)

As the author of six novels set in seventh century Byzantium, I’m often asked: Why choose that period? There’s always been strong interest within the historical fiction community in Classical Greece, and in Rome a century either side of the birth of Christ, and the western Dark Ages. With very few exceptions – Robert Graves’ Count Belisarius, for example, or Cecelia Holland’s Belt of Gold – Byzantium in any period of its long history is a neglected area. Why, then, did I choose it?

The short answer is that I wanted to be different. I won’t say that there are too many novels set in the other periods mentioned above. There is, even so, a very large number of them. If there is always a market for them, standing out from the crowd requires greater ability than I at first thought I had. And so I began Conspiracies of Rome (2008) I ran at once into difficulties I hadn’t considered, and that could have been shuffled past had I decided on a thriller about the plot to kill Julius Caesar. Solving these difficulties put me through a second education as a writer, and may even have shown that I do possess certain abilities. Before elaborating on this point, however, let me give a longer answer to my question: Why choose Byzantium? Continue reading

Event in Deal Library

Meet the author – Richard Blake

KCC events, Talks & Presentations

Deal Library , Deal

Meet local author Sean Gabb writing as Richard Blake at Deal Library for an insight into his historical fiction writing.

Sean Gabb is a historian, broadcaster and university lecturer and lives in the Deal area. He has written eight fiction books some under the name Richard Blake.
He has also written for The Times and the Birmingham Post. Sean has also written a number of nonfiction political titles.

Saturday 19th July 2014

11.00 am


Deal Library
Broad Street
CT14 6ER

A Brief Guide to Self-Publishing and a free book offer

by Sean Gabb

Dear All,

I commend the attached article on self-publication. If you are interested in publishing yourself, but don’t know where to begin, this is a good overview of the current options. I write from long experience, even if some of my earlier efforts illustrate one of the big mistakes I warn against – this being the need to get someone else to read your work before you hit the publish button. No matter how well you think you’ve proofed something, you will tend to read what you think ought to be on the page, not what is there. I crawl with horrified shame at some of the howlers I used to let through.

But the other function of this post is to follow the advice I give about free gifts. In 2006, I published my first novel, The Column of Phocas. This was well-received at the time, and led to six commissions from Hodder & Stoughton and translations into half a dozen languages. Because I withdrew it from sale, I still have three boxes left from the second impression. Continue reading

The Break, Reviewed by Robert Groezinger

Is the Past the Future?

By Robert Groezinger

July 5, 2014

Imagine waking up one day and discovering that, although your country has not changed, the rest of the world has. You find that while your immediate surroundings have not altered, everything outside your country has inexplicably reverted to a time of about a millennium ago.

This is the setting of Sean Gabb’s new novel The Break: In the year 2017, after days of violent storms, which ground all planes and force all ships into harbour, modern Britain, with all its cars, TVs, smartphones, CCTV cameras, unaccountable police and militant political correctness, finds itself surrounded by a world which considers the year to be AD 1064. The cities of mainland Europe have disappeared or contracted to clusters of a few thousand thatched houses. Roads, railway lines and canals have all vanished. The rest of the continent consists mainly of forest and other uncultivated land. Further south, the Byzantine Empire is still going strong – just. The great schism that split the early church into an eastern Orthodox and western Catholic branch happened only 10 years previously. And the Normans have yet to invade England. Continue reading

Review of Richard Blake’s Curse of Babylon

Sangre, poder y un bisexual inglés
Published in Ulisex Magazine, May 2014

“La Maldición de Babilonia” es la sexta novela histórica de ficción del profesor e historiador británico, Richard Blake, sobre la caída del Imperio Romano y la vida de Aelric un personaje que no siente vergüenza de seguir sus gustos donde quiera que lo llevan pues es explícitamente bisexual.
Staff @UlisexMgzn
En el siglo séptimo, el Imperio Romano se está desmoronando, Roma era un montón de escombros, Grecia estaba prácticamente perdida, España fue invadida por los bárbaros y los sarracenos del Este estaban en la marcha.
El origen del rápido desmoronamiento fue  la caída de Constantinopla, una ciudad resplandeciente con riqueza  y decadencia  que también es el punto de partida para  el bisexual y cínico antihéroe de Richard Blake, Aelric, durante  uno de los períodos más oscuros de la historia mundial .
Los últimos días del Imperio Romano han demostrado ser un telón de fondo original, pues no son nada glamorosos a los habitualmente descritos,  creando una atmósfera extrañamente entretenida y divertida, al tiempo que Blake, ofrece una fascinante visión de un fragmento poco conocido de un pasado muy conocido.
El lector se une a Aelric en 615 d. C.,  cuando como un ambicioso joven de 25 años de edad, gobierna Constantinopla en ausencia del emperador Heraclio ausente.
Sin ninguna oposición aparente, Lord Aelric domina la gran ciudad desde su magnífico palacio fortificado, impulsando las reformas que son la única esperanza  para la supervivencia del imperio y la única manera de restaurar su riqueza y grandeza.
Pero sus enemigos internos están esperando su momento para devolver el golpe, el complot para destruir el advenedizo Inglés, considerado por muchos en la ciudad  no más que un ” inmigrante bárbaro”, comienza cuando se envía el mítico Cuerno de Babilonia, un tesoro antiguo y maldito.
A medida que aumenta de peligro, Alaric debe enfrentar el secuestro , la revolución, una invasión brutal y una joven desafiante y obstinada llamada Antonia , que ha caído en tiempos difíciles .
Alaric tendrá que llamar a las fuerzas nuevas e inesperadas para tratar de salvar el imperio,  entre un elenco de corruptos, sin olvidar ante todo, la búsqueda de la felicidad personal que lo ha estado eludiendo.
Publicado en Londres el 2 de enero de este año y disponible en versión digital por la editorial Hodder & Stoughton, “The Course of Babylon” es una gran novela comparable a los dramas televisados o producidos en cine actualmente, no apta para todo público pues sólo está disponible en español la primera novela de la saga, “Conspiración en Roma” publicada por Editorial Planeta, el resto está en inglés, esperemos que no por mucho tiempo.
About Richard Blake: Richard Blake se graduó de la Universidad de York en 1982, y obtuvo su doctorado en la Universidad de Middlesex.  Desde 1992, ha sido profesor universitario en Londres. Entre 1990 y 1992, vivió y trabajó en Checoslovaquia como un asesor del primer ministro eslovaco.

Next Novel by Sean Gabb – any help on improving this blurb appreciated

aaaaThe Break
by Sean Gabb
Copyright Sean Gabb 2014
Pre-order here

No one knows what caused The Break eleven months ago, but there’s no sign of its end.

England is settling into its new future as a reindustrialising concentration camp. The rest of the world is watching… waiting… curious…

It’s Wednesday the 7th March 2018 – in the mainland UK. Everywhere else, it’s some time in June 1065.

Jennifer thinks her family survived The Hunger because of their smuggling business – tampons and paracetamol to France, silver back to England. Little does she know what game her father was really playing, as she recrosses the Channel from an impromptu mission of her own. Little can she know how her life has already been torn apart.

Who has taken Jennifer’s parents? Where are they? What is the Home Secretary up to with the Americans? Why is she so desperate to lay hands on Michael? Will Jesus Christ return to Earth above Oxford Circus? When will the “Doomsday Project” go live?

Can the Byzantine Empire and the Catholic Church take on the British State, and win?

All will be answered – if Jennifer can stay alive in a post-apocalyptic London terrorised by hunger, by thugs in uniform, and by motorbike gangs of Islamic suicide bombers.

From Reviews of Other Novels by Sean Gabb

“Vivid characters, devious plotting and buckets of gore are enhanced by his unfamiliar choice of period. Nasty, fun and educational.”
(Daily Telegraph)

“He knows how to deliver a fast-paced story and his grasp of the period is impressively detailed.”
(Mail on Sunday)

“A rollicking and raunchy read . . . Anyone who enjoys their history with large dollops of action, sex, intrigue  and, above all, fun will absolutely love this novel.”
(Historical Novels)

“It would be hard to over-praise this extraordinary series, a near-perfect blend of historical detail and atmosphere  with the plot of a conspiracy thriller, vivid characters, high philosophy and vulgar comedy.”
(Matt Coward, The Morning Star)

Review of The Churchill Memorandum

Sean Gabb: “The Churchill Memorandum”

This thriller is a tremendously fun romp through an alternative history set in 1959 where the Second World War didn’t happen. Hitler died in 1939, and the British Empire has sustained its precarious position through careful diplomacy. Britain is still ruled well by a conservative establishment on a mix of traditional values and liberal enterprise: hard currency and technological innovation; beautiful buildings and statues; zeppelins and heated pavements. The sixties (speculated by AnomalyUK to have really started in the 1950s) never happen. Continue reading

E-Book Edition of The Churchill Memorandum

TCM CoverThe Churchill Memorandum
An Alternative History Novel by Sean Gabb
(Part One of his “England Trilogy”)
Hampden Press, London
e-book Edition 1st April 2014
ISBN: 9781311160829 £3.69/$5.98
Pre-order copies here
Contact Sean Gabb for review copies, or for interview: 

“Who is trying to kill Anthony Markham? For whom is Major Stanhope really working?  Where did Dr Pakeshi get his bag of money? Is there a connection between Michael Foot,
Leader of the British Communist Party, and Foreign Secretary Harold Macmillan?
Why is Ayn Rand in an American prison, and Nathaniel Branden living in a South London bedsit?
Why is Alan Greenspan dragged off and shot in the first chapter?  Where does Enoch Powell fit into the story?
Above all, what is the Churchill Memorandum?
What terrible secrets does it contain?”

Description Continue reading

Thomas Knapp Reviews Conspiracies of Rome

… let’s call this a recommendation. By way of disclosure, I received no payment of any kind for this recommendation, and even turned down an offer of links to pirated e-versions (said offer from the author himself) in favor of buying the books I’m about to recommend. In making the foregoing statement, I’m assuming (safely, I think) that the author’s friendship, which I highly value, has never been conditional on receipt of a positive review or recommendation.

So: I highly recommend Conspiracies of Rome (which I have read) and The Terror of Constantinople (which I am now reading) by Richard Blake. I strongly suspect that said recommendation will extend to The Blood of Alexandria and The Sword of Damascus, which I haven’t yet read but intend to as soon as possible. Continue reading

Interview with Richard Blake

Richard Blake Writes: “Scott De Buitléir, the Editor of Eile Magazine has now decided that my answers to his interview questions – which he formerly described as “perfect” – are shocking and obscene. He takes particular exception to my literal translations of Latin verse, and to my explanation of the Latin and Greek sexual vocabulary. He has therefore asked me to remove all mention of his name and publication from my website. He has further told me that his magazine will under no circumstances publish a review of my latest novel, Curse of Babylon, which he also regards as obscene.

“I have done as Mr De Buitléir requests.  I must say, though, that I am surprised by his sudden change of heart. I did assume that a gay magazine would be less prudish about frank discussions of ancient sexual mores, and less eager to protect the sensibilities of its readers. However, it is his magazine. He has the undoubted right to decide after the event to  be offended. He also has the right to reject my offer to rewrite my answers, or to edit them himself.

“Here is the interview. Anyone who wishes to republish it is welcome to do so. I only ask that anyone who does republish should tell me and provide a link.” Continue reading

Richard Blake Reviewed in Slovak Press

Note: Very fancy Slovak here – hard for me to understand. But flattering, even so, to my friend Mr Blake. SIG

Richard Blake
Sprisahanie v Rime

Vydavateľstvo Slovart
Preklad Marian Pochyly

Roku 608 na juhovychode dnešneho Anglicka pracuje mlady Sas Aelric ako tlmočnik Maximina, kňaza z Ravenny. Vo voľnom čase suloži s Edwinou, dcerou miestneho panovnika Aethelberta. Keď jeho vzťah odhalia, odsudia ho na smrť, pred katom ho zachrani Maximin, s ktorym sa ale musi vydať na cestu do Rima. Duchovny odtiaľ planuje priniesť knihy potrebne na vzdelanie krajiny. Tesne pred hradbami Večneho mesta sa dostanu do potyčky. Vyviaznu, ba dokonca ziskaju nemalu sumu peňazi, relikviar, no najma listiny. Zaležitosti sa začnu zamotavať v okamihu, keď pri stĺpe s vyobrazenim uradujuceho panovnika Byzancie Foka, najdu mŕtve Maximinovo telo. Aelric prisaha pomstu. Začina patrať, pričom sa postupne zoznamuje s mestom. Pokračuje v ulohe, kvoli ktorej s mnichom prišli – riadi prepisovanie vybranych knih, spolu s vyslancom Etiopie sa zahĺbi do machinacii na burze; ako spoločnik aristokrata Lucia nahliadne do zakulisia davnych obradov a po prvykrat v živote vidi papyrus.

No a predovšetkym… Luštenie tajomstva listin si vychutnajte sami. Knižka tvori prvu časť trilogie prepojenej postavou rozpravača. Avizovane nazvy Teror v Konštantínopole Krv v Carihrade jasne davaju najavo, že priaznivci akčnych trilerov v historickych kulisach sa maju na čo tešiť, fanušikov historickych romanov však nepochybne uvedie do pomykova vysoka davka „aktualizacie”. Aelricov bojovne ladeny ateizmus je v siedmom storoči n. l. nanajvyš nepravdepodobny. Spravanie hrdinu, v zrejmej snahe autora približiť sa skusenostnemu obzoru moderneho čitateľa, evokuje skor psychologicky profil šikovneho a vykonneho manažera dnešnych dni.

Published in Knizna Revue,

Richard Blake: Straight Author Writes Gay Themes

Summer 2013 - GiovanniWhat is your current novel?
My latest novel, Curse of Babylon, has a very strong gay theme, and shows gay people in a particularly favourable way. I am the author of six historical novels, all published by Hodder & Stoughton in London.The protagonist in all of them is explicitly bisexual. He feels no embarrassment about following his tastes wherever they lead him These novels are:
Conspiracies of Rome by Richard Blake (8 Jan 2009)  The Terror of Constantinople (Aelric) by Richard Blake (21 Jan 2010)  The Blood of Alexandria (Aelric) by Richard Blake (17 Feb 2011)  The Sword of Damascus (Aelric) by Richard Blake (16 Feb 2012)  The Ghosts of Athens (Aelric) by Richard Blake (25 Apr 2013)  The Curse of Babylon (Aelric) by Richard Blake (2 Jan 2014)  Continue reading

Review of Mr Blake’s Curse of Babylon

Book review: The Curse of Babylon by Richard Blake

by Pam Norfolk

Published on the 22 January

By the 7th century, the Roman Empire was in tatters… Rome was a pile of rubble, Greece was virtually lost, Spain was overrun by barbarians and Saracens from the East were on the march.

Centre of this fast-crumbling empire was Constantinople, a glittering city of wealth, poverty and decadence, and the ideal power base for Richard Blake’s cynical anti-hero Aelric to wheel and deal his way through one of the murkiest periods in world history. Continue reading

Richard Thompson Reviews The Churchill Memorandum

Sean Gabb The Churchill Memorandum

Set in 1959 and related from the point of view of a young academic of Indian ancestry working in London, this is fiction exploring the way things might have gone had Hitler died before invading Poland. The British Empire survived with Enoch Powell in charge of the India Office. The USA was isolationist and racist. Various politicians I am old enough to remember are shown in a most unflattering light. Continue reading

Richard Thompson Reviews Blood of Alexandria

Richard Blake The Blood of Alexandria
Reviewed by Richard Thompson

The third in a series of historical thrillers set in the seventh century.

Blake originally graduated in History, and some of the main characters are historical, though I suspect some of their adventures are not. One of the central characters is Priscus, son in law and for a while designated heir of the emperor Phocas. In the story that preceded this one ( see my account of my reading last year) Priscus abandoned Phocas just in time to join Heraclius, who deposed and executed him. Blake has Priscus still in the Heraclius’ service two years later, though Gibbon says that Priscus was deemed to unreliable for high office and retired to a monastery. Continue reading

Richard Blake Reviews “Sword of Marathon” by Jack England

Review Article by Richard Blake
(September 2012)

Sword of Marathon
By Jack England
Published August 2012, £7.99 pb, £2.99 Kindle
ISBN: 978 14781

The hero of this novel is a proto-Englishman (England itself will not exist for another thousand years) of great intelligence and beauty who settles in Greece. He begins telling his story in extreme old age, and, though aged, nearly has to kill someone in the first chapter. Much of the novel takes place in Athens. However, anyone who thinks the author has been influenced by my own Ghosts of Athens will be mistaken.

Jack told me he was writing Sword of Marathon in May 2011, when we were both attending a conference in Bodrum. I had just finished Ghosts of Athens, though it would not be published until August 2012. By then, Jack had finished Sword of Marathon, and was working on a sequel. There is a similarity between our novels, but I do swear that neither of us could have had any influence on the other. This really is one of those times when great minds have thought alike.

The story begins when Luke and his brother Hal are on a trading mission and are captured by nomadic and more than usually demented barbarians. Through a series of exciting and well-paced adventures, they arrive in Athens in 490, just when Darius of Persia has finally decided to have his revenge on a city that has not only resisted his invitation to accept him as overlord, but has consistently made trouble along the western fringes of the greatest empire that has existed. Continue reading

Bacon And Egg Man Review: New York Of The Future?

by Dick Puddlecote

Bacon And Egg Man Review: New York Of The Future?BaconEgg.jpgWith the Christmas downtime, I managed to read some of the books which I’ve bought on a whim; been given on special occasions; or ‘borrowed-meaning-to-read-but-never-finding-the-time’.

One of these was Bacon and Egg Man by Ken Wheaton which chimes well with themes discussed here so I thought one of my rare reviews would be in order. Continue reading


Curse of Babylon Out Today in Paperback

Ghosts of Athens

Richard Blake’s Sword of Damascus Reviewed

Sword of Damascus
Richard Blake
Hodder & Stoughton, London
Hardback Edition: June 2011
Paperback Edition: January 2012
432pp, £19.99
ISBN: 978-1444709667

Unlike its three predecessors, the Sword of Damascus (Damascus) takes place shortly before the narrative of the 96-year-old Aelric from the monastery at Jarrow (and not 70 some-odd years prior). This definitely puts a different spin on the story, with Aelric suffering from the physical shortcomings wrought with age – with death soon looming — instead of from the view of a handsome and energetic 20-something. Continue reading

Curse of Babylon Reviewed

Curse of Babylon
Richard Blake
Hodder & Stoughton, London

Paperback Edition: August 2013
496pp, £14.99
ISBN: 9781444709735
Synopsis| Chapter One | Reviews



Book Depository
(free world postage)

This is another adventure of Brother Aelric, a monk in England who was once the Lord Aelric, a senior official in the eastern (Byzantine) Roman Empire. Unlike previous instalments, this one is told almost completely in flashback, a wise decision, as it is a very physical tale, with large amounts of fighting, fornication, leaping from rooftops and other forms of derring-do.

This time Lord Aelric is attempting an essential land reform program for the Empire, which inevitably brings him into conflict with established interests. While attempting to fend off political moves to inflame the mob and influence the indecisive emperor Heraclius against him, he also has to deal with Persian intrigue. A war between the two empires has been going on for some time, and the Romans are losing. A Persian ship is loose in Byzantine home waters, containing an old adversary, Shahin, who is making extraordinary efforts to retrieve a magical artifact called the horn of Babylon that has come into Aelric’s possession. Finally he becomes entangled with a woman called Antonia, who has disguised herself as a man so she can pursue a career as a petitioner, but is certainly more than what she appears to be. A Byzantine adventure indeed!

Aelric is a trendy anti-hero, although his ruthlessness and cynicism are less evident in his earlier life. There is still a lot of material that is frankly very demeaning to human dignity, but if you can put aside the occasional descriptions of perverse sexual practices and also that the mighty lord Aelric does a lot of footwork that really would have been done by underlings, this is a very exciting and intriguing story with lots of twists and turns.

Published by The Historical Novel Society
on the 2nd November 2013

Inventing trouble

by Robert Henderson
Inventing trouble

Someone is trying to kill me. Or to be more precise a number of people are trying to kill me. Or to be utterly exact various professional killers employed by sundry powerful men are trying to murder me. Continue reading

Curse of Babylon Reviewed

I love an anti-hero as you’re never sure which way things are going to  go.  After all they’re unbound by the usual set of ironclad rules that  most have to stand by and for that reason the wonderfully dark as well as delicious Brother Aelric is a cracking change from the norm.

In  this historical adventure (the sixth title for our hero) we get to see his own brand of trouble in Constantinople as a man of rank.  It has great prose, some wonderful twists and of course with a lead character that you’re never 100 percent sure on then you know that its going to be a whole lot of fun.

The only problem that I have with this type of book, and its been a bug bear for years to me, is that I hate books being a look back on a characters life from their own point of view.  It means that there’s no danger to the characters person, that they’re always going to get out of a situation which really does take a huge edge off the plotlines.


Slovakia: The Cultural Heart of Central Europe

Richard Blake Books 2013 08 2

Summer Sale: The Churchill Memorandum

I have reduced the Kindle price of The Churchill Memorandum to £2.70.

Buy before I change the price again.

Yet Another Novel by Richard Blake

The Curse of Babylon
by Richard Blake
Published by Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: 1st August 2013
496pp, £14.99
Kindle Version £7.99
ISBN: 8-1444709735

Richard Blake’s novel The Curse of Babylon, is due out on the 1st August 2013, from Hodder & Stoughton. His earlier novels have been translated into Spanish, Italian, Greek, Hungarian, Slovak and Complex Chinese. This is the sixth in his series of critically-acclaimed and internationally best-selling historical thrillers. Continue reading

George Orwell and the Cold War: A Reconsideration

George Orwell and the Cold War: A Reconsideration

[From Reflections on America, 1984: An Orwell Symposium.
Ed. Robert Mulvihill. Athens and London, University of Georgia
Press, 1986.]

In a recent and well-known article, Norman Podhoretz has attempted to conscript George Orwell into the ranks of neoconservative enthusiasts for the newly revitalized cold war with the Soviet Union.[1] If Orwell were alive today, this truly “Orwellian” distortion would afford him considerable wry amusement. It is my contention that the cold war, as pursued by the three superpowers of Nineteen Eighty-Four,was the key to their successful imposition of a totalitarian regime upon their subjects. We all know that Nineteen Eighty-Four was a brilliant and mordant attack on totalitarian trends in modern society, and it is also clear that Orwell was strongly opposed to communism and to the regime of the Soviet Union. But the crucial role of a perpetual cold war in the entrenchment of totalitarianism in Orwell’s “nightmare vision” of the world has been relatively neglected by writers and scholars. Continue reading

The Probability Broach


Popping Pills With The Romans 

I was recently reading a book (the historical fiction, Conspiracies of Rome by Richard Blake if you were to wonder) and early on in the book there were a few references to pills. Of the medicinal kind. ‘Buying pills from the Apothecary’. ‘ Pills rattling in a metal pill box’.
This got me to thinking about pills in Ancient Rome. I had not come across any reference to them in an early Roman setting before, not in non fiction and not in fiction.  That is not to say that there are none, just none that I have come across or remember. And, as is the way with me when I sense there is something new for me to learn about periods of history that interest me, my mind was awash with questions. Continue reading

Conspiracies of Rome: Another Review

Since Mr Blake is notoriously disinclined to blow his own trumpet and bang his own drum, I feel a compelling obligation to do so for him. As chance may have it, you can buy any of his books with just two clicks by following the links from the right sidebar of this Blog. SIG Continue reading

Blood of Alexandria: Another Fine Review

This is the 3rd Aelric novel. It is like the first two with lots of plot twists and buckets of blood but with more of both. Its a fine story. (spoiler alert) One thing I want to bring up is that our hero makes a momentious decision towards the end. As readers know, he is what we would call a secular humanist and it one of his goals to save civilization or at least the Empire of the Romans. He is horrified by what absolutely has to be done to accomplish this. Is humanity worth saving? Aelic finds the detritus of one who answered this question in their time. They found keys to a door which just keeps on opening for our race. But he in his time decided man was not ready for this key. Aelric could turn that key and revive this empire of unjust taxation, pointless violence, God’s vicegerent on earth and white marble. Yes he decides to carry on with his goal but also leave the key for others to find. He knows that humanity with the power of knowledge is not worth saving without freedom for all– a job for many of our little lifetimes to fulfill and renew.

Richard Blake: Review of “Ghost of Athens”

Note: Mr Blake’s Ghosts of Athens is out in paperback on the 25th April. Place your orders now to avoid disappointment!

4.0 out of 5 stars Well Written, February 23, 2013
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Richard Blake continues his high standard of detail and storyline with his latest book. I recommend it to anyone interested in the period.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Another Incredible Work By Blake, February 5, 2013
Don Sproat (Orlando, Florida United States) – See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Ghosts of Athens (Aelric) (Paperback)

The author’s fifth book in the series continued to amaze and delight this reader and I cannot wait for the next installment! His main and supporting characters are wonderful and so well developed over this long a series that they are like old friends. Of course the same action, intrigue, and naughtiness permeate this book as in the first four. I encourage all persons interested in Roman Empire Era fiction to read the entire series. Kindle readers will be happy that the “Aleric” books are available in that format.

Richard Blake: A Brief Introduction

A Brief and Rambling Advertisement
for the Works of Richard Blake

Oh dear, I suddenly feel just as I always do when I reach the “horrid page” of a job application form. You’ve given all the easy information – date of birth, qualifications, previous experience, and so forth. You now have a whole sheet of A4 on which you need to explain why the job should be yours. The horridest of horrid pages even contain the words “Continue on a separate sheet if necessary.” There’s no point shouting “Haven’t I said enough already to show whether I can do the bloody job?” No point at all. You’ve a readership of dead-eyed human resource managers, and they won’t even consider having you round for interview until you’ve revealed your childhood ambition to work in whatever position is being advertised. Continue reading

Fact, fiction and historical novels
Richard Blake
Published in The New Nation (Bangladesh),
2nd December 2012

If you describe anything as “the worst thing that can happen,” it probably isn’t. But one of the worst things that can happen to an historical novelist is to have someone creep up with a smirk on his face, and say that you got a fact wrong. For me, it’s worse than being told the novel is useless. I’ve always sheltered from general criticism behind an impenetrable wall of vanity. I’m a genius. Anyone who says otherwise can only be intellectually or morally defective. Tell me, though, I’ve got my facts wrong, and I may run screaming from the room. Continue reading

Fact and Fiction: The Trouble with Historical Novels

Fact and Fiction: The Trouble with Historical Novels
by Richard Blake

If you describe anything as “the worst thing that can happen,” it probably isn’t. Whatever you care to imagine, there’s usually something worse. But one of the worst things that can happen to an historical novelist is to have someone creep up to you with a smirk on his face, and tell you that some fact in your latest masterpiece is bad history. For me, it’s certainly worse than just being told the novel is useless. I’ve always been sheltered from general criticism behind an impenetrable wall of vanity. I’m a genius. Anyone who says otherwise can only be intellectually or morally defective. Tell me, though, I’ve got my facts wrong, and I may run screaming from the room. Continue reading

Nice Review of The Churchill Memorandum

Sean Gabb, director of the Libertarian Alliance and prolific author and commentator on British politics and society, has written a novel of mayhem, adventure, and alternate history: The Churchill Memorandum.

I don’t know Sean Gabb personally, but I have read other works on his recommendation (notably those of Richard Blake), so when the review copy of his novel arrived, I dove into it with great anticipation and devoured it in one afternoon, taking assiduous notes between incredulous outbursts of ‘He just… did he really just do that? WTF?’ Anyone who has read the novel will probably recognise this frequent reaction. Continue reading

Another One from Mr Blake

Sword of Damascus by Richard Blake Published by Hodder & Stoughton Paperback Edition: 16th February 2012 432pp, £7.99 Kindle Version  £6.99 ISBN: 978-1444709681

Richard Blake’s novel The Sword of Damascus, has now been published in paperback by Hodder & Stoughton. His earlier novels have been translated into Spanish, Italian, Greek, Hungarian, Slovak and Complex Chinese. This is the fourth in his series of critically-acclaimed and internationally best-selling historical thrillers.

Set in 687 AD, Sword of Damascus takes place against the life or death struggle of the Byzantine Empire against the first and greatest expansion of Islam. Expelled, after nearly a thousand years, from Syria, Egypt and increasingly from North Africa, the formerly dominant power of the Mediterranean world has been pushed further and further back – even to the very walls of its capital, Constantinople.

Everyone knows that Europe owes two debts to Greece – for the victories at Marathon and Salamis that turned back the Persians. But who now remembers our third debt – to the supposedly decadent Byzantines? For they do save themselves from utter defeat, and they buy time for the rest of Europe. Almost at the last moment, they come up with Greek Fire, a mysterious liquid – or is it a gas? – that turns back the Islamic advance and restores Byzantine control of the seas.

Yes, without this “miracle weapon,” Constantinople would have fallen in the 7th century, rather than the 15th, and the new barbarian kingdoms of Europe would have gone down one by one before the unstoppable cry of Allah al akbar! But for Greek Fire, Edward Gibbon’s famous surmise would have become the truth:

“…the Arabian fleet might have sailed without a naval combat into the mouth of the Thames. Perhaps the interpretation of the Koran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and her pulpits might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Mahomet.”

But what importance has all this to old Aelric, who writes his memoirs and waits patiently for death in the remote wastes of northern England? Little does he expect a double siege of his monastery, a kidnapping, a near-fatal chase through the Mediterranean, and a confrontation at the end of this that will settle the future of mankind. Will age have robbed Aelric of his charm, his intelligence, his resourcefulness, or of his talent for cold and homicidal duplicity?

Comments on Richard Blake’s Earlier Novels
‘Vivid characters, devious plotting and buckets of gore are enhanced by his unfamiliar choice of period. Nasty, fun and educational.’ Daily Telegraph
‘He knows how to deliver a fast-paced story and his grasp of the period is impressively detailed’ Mail on Sunday
‘A rollicking and raunchy read . . . Anyone who enjoys their history with large dollops of action, sex, intrigue and, above all, fun will absolutely love this novel.’ Historical Novels Review
‘Fascinating to read, very well written, an intriguing plot and I enjoyed it very much.’ Derek Jacobi, star of I Claudius and Gladiator

Read Chapter One

For review copies, contact Eleni Lawrence at Hodder & Stoughton.

Richard Blake is available for interview.

Disney’s Lucasfilm Buyout: Fighting Power with Power

by Kevin Carson

Note: Mr Blake, of course, would be delighted if Disney took an interest in his novels. Doubtless, the sex and violence and bad language with which they are replete would need to be replaced with uplifting songs and more than a touch of Moronican sentimentality. The somewhat nasty ending of Ghosts of Athens might also need to be toned down. But even seeing a few of the characters turned into talking animals would be a price worth paying for the translation to the big screen.

And this is where Mr Blake parts company from Kevin Carson. Mr Blake will defend his copyrights to the death, and will cheer on any hard-faced politician who assists in the necessary lock down. What else, after all, are nuclear weapons and lunatic neo-conservatives for if not to protect the royalties of critically-acclaimed and best selling historical novelists? SIG Continue reading

What is “Wireless tele-Vision” for? Discuss.

David Davis

[late edit...] [ I have suddenly wondered to myself what it's for, given that the global % penetration of small handheld (or not much larger) devices that can access news, comment, blogs and the opinions of millions, is approaching a majority. ]

One the one hand, the British Political EnemyClass has created what it seems to be admitting is a monster - this says “ban television for the under-threes” (or words to that effect.) Yet on the other hand a modern repressive police state would be a more difficult one in which to manage thought-control, regulate the opinions of, and generally farm for eliciting the “correct public responses” without this machinery. I have drafted a few of my own thoughts, rather fast this morning, in response to a typical Daily Mail mob-hysteria-inducing breakfast-article.

Of course, an invented device can’t be uninvented. The Wireless Tele-vision [WT] (and quickly also with post-receive injected sound subcarrier) was a marvellous development of the pure Sound-wireless, but like all technologies it’s been stolen and corrupted, Morgoth-style, by governments for their own purposes.

In the British State’s case,  WT’s purpose was to anaesthatize and render uncurious “The Masses”, over decades so nobody would notice except Continue reading

The Oaths and Vows That Bind Our Society Together

The Oaths and Vows That Bind Our Society Together
David J. Webb

Legal Notes No. 53

ISBN 9781856376563
ISSN 0267-7083 (print)
ISSN 2042-258X (online)

An occasional publication of the Libertarian Alliance,
Suite 35, 2 Lansdowne Row, Mayfair, London W1J 6HL

© 2012: Libertarian Alliance; David Webb


David Webb studied Chinese and Russian at Leeds University, where he was involved in Marxist politics.  He has since become a conservative writer, contributing to The Salisbury Review and Right Now!, and more recently contributing extensively to the Libertarian Alliance.  He lived for four years in China (Tianjin, Kunming and Chengdu) and now writes freelance on Chinese politics and economics.  He is also a student of the Cork dialect of Irish and runs the Cork Irish website at  This essay is a slightly revised version of one that first appeared in the August 2012 issue of The Individual, the journal of the Society for Individual Freedom (



The purpose of oaths

The penchant for discussion of the Queen’s Coronation Oath on conservative websites, and also the habit of the ‘Freemen on the Land’ of asking to see judicial oaths of office, have recently reminded me of the Christian basis of our Anglo-Saxon civilisation.  Our constitution is held together by a series of oaths, oaths that mean something to people because they are solemn vows in the sight of God and before the people of this country to perform various duties.  I am not sure how seriously an oath can be regarded in the days when religion is scoffed at.  It may be that conservatives could still favour the retention of unshakeable, unshirkable and unretractable vows, regardless of any views on the existence of a Supreme Being, seeing such oaths as a foundation stone of our civilisation.  Nevertheless, it is clear that most people who make oaths today are not expecting to have to fulfil them and break them with impunity.  Is it any wonder that the fabric of our society has become less secure? Continue reading

Nice Review of Richard Blake’s Συνωμοσίες στη Ρώμη

Στη Ρώμη, στις αρχές του 7ου αιώνα, μας μεταφέρει το συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο και μας δείχνει τα πρώτα βήματα του Αλάριχου στην ανέλιξή του στην εκκλησιαστική ιστορία. Πρόκειται σαφέστατα για μια εγκληματική φυσιογνωμία, η οποία βαρύνεται για πολλά εγκλήματα που έκαναν οι χριστιανοί σε βάρος των Εθνικών και στο βιβλίο αυτό, το οποίο αποτελεί το πρώτο μέρος μιας τριλογίας, έχουμε την ευκαιρία να τον δούμε στα πρώτα του βήματα στη Ρώμη. Πρόκειται για ένα βιβλίο αρκετά διαφωτιστικό, το οποίο μας δίνει αρκετά ανάγλυφα το νεανικό χαρακτήρα ενός κοινού εγκληματία και με αρκετά καλή πλοκή. Εκείνο το οποίο με ξένισε είναι διάφοροι νεολογισμοί, οι οποίοι δεν ταιριάζουν με τη γλώσσα της εποχής και δεν ξέρω εάν υπάρχουν στο πρωτότυπο ή οφείλονται στη μετάφραση.

Ghosts of Athens, Reviewed by The Historical Novels Society

The Ghosts of Athens by Richard Blake

Athens of 612 AD is a decadent and vulnerable city, threatened by starving barbarian tribes. Richard Blake’s protagonist, Aelric, a senator of the Roman Empire of British origin, is ordered to divert his galley to the threatened city. He finds an explosive religious dispute underway, an unexplained corpse and the possibility of pagan ritual killing. The Ghosts of Athens is steeped in horror, mystery, intrigue and suspicion in a place that is a ghost of its glorious former self. Set in a little-explored period of history which Blake knows thoroughly, he crafts a suspenseful and fascinating historical thriller, in which it is difficult to discern who the villains really are. Continue reading

Chapter One, Ghosts of Athens by Richard Blake

Buy your copies here!

Chapter One: Canterbury, Friday, 3rd April 688

The Ghosts of Athens (Aelric 4)The present chapter in my story begins five days ago. Oh, Jarrow to Canterbury is a three hundred mile journey, and you don’t cover much of that in five days. But I’m not starting from the day we set out from the monastery, with everyone waving us off and holding up his hands in prayer for our safety. Nor am I counting our interminable, though generally smooth, progress along the old military road, nor the changes of guard as we passed from one kingdom to another. I mention five days because it was then that I came, with young Brother Jeremy, to the silent ruins of what had, in the old days, been London, and prepared to step onto the bridge across the Thames. Continue reading

New Historical Novel by Libertarian (not Richard Blake!)

Very Pleased Indeed!

Terror of Constantinople

There are some great reviews on these pages that provide enough insight to the
historical settings and general plot of the book, so I will restrict myself to
more particular observations.

First and foremost for me was the hugely entertaining narrative that Blake presents. The book is written in the first person so we hear all of the events through the commentaries of the acerbic, witty & cynical Aelric. He has a refreshingly blunt view of life and describes his circumstances and adventures accordingly. For the most part his comments and conversations are pricelessly funny. I do wish though that the author had been a little more careful to keep his descriptions in 7th. Century speak. His references to pregnancy as “putting her up the duff”, going to sleep as “crashing out” and, perhaps most heinous to me, Aelric asks his attendants on a couple of occasions to “bring a takeaway”. Hope it wasn’t Pizza Hutt! Continue reading

Mr Blake is Currently Feeling Pleased with Himself!

You are there in Rome in the early 600’s. Stop in for dinner at the genteel poverty of inbred Senator so and so, the stinky sewer outside is blocked up from decades of neglect, the bread is stamped with the logo of Pope Boniface, the founder of this feast. Rome’s few thousand residents mostly depend on this bread dole. Across town the Panthion is being converted into a church. Incense is coming to town for this consecration. Continue reading

And here’s a Review of One of Mr Blake’s Early Works

This, I think, is one of those not-very-wonderful books that still manages to be rather entertaining. It is in dire need of a thorough edit (there are opaque sentences, repetitious/inelegant phrases and typos to contend with) and, furthermore, the author has a slightly odd command of swearing. It is as if he is unaccustomed to using profanity and employs naughty words in this text with the coy clumsiness of a blushing adolescent. The book is also crucially deficient in sex! Sexual scenes are alluded to, but there is a disappointing lack of detail! This jars when you consider the personality of the main character. And really, in a lightweight historical romp (if I can use the r-word!), occasional steaminess is kind of a requirement! Continue reading

A Fine Review of Mr Blake’s Last but One

Aelric comes up trumps once more in this fascinating series which combines a boys own joy of adventure and smut, with some pretty decent historical narative and analysis. Continue reading